Dru Yoga tips to help you deal with Christmas Stress

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Christmas is meant to be a time of peace and joy and giving. For many of us, however, it has become a time which is far from peaceful. Our stress levels rise as we count off the days. Shopping takes over our lives and the ‘giving’ can become obsessive anxiety about whether we have spent enough on our gifts, or got enough food in for the big day. The message of peace and love which is the essence of Christmas can get well and truly lost.

So how can we get back to the essence? How can we bring to Christmas that sense of peace and genuine (rather than commercial) giving that it really represents?

Dru Yoga, of course, has all the answers, as it will always bring us back to that place of stillness within us. Dru Yoga postures and sequences will restore our bodies and minds, releasing blocked energy.

Simply standing in Tadasana (the Mountain Posture) connects us deeply to the earth. Visualise a tree, with its roots firmly anchored into the earth, giving a wonderful sense of stability. Using the breath, lengthen through the legs, keeping the knees soft. Engage the core stability muscles slightly to support the posture. Lift the sternum, relax your shoulders, lengthen the back of your neck. Feel tall and relaxed.

At this time of year the earth is dormant, but a lot is happening under the surface to prepare for the renewed growth of spring. It’s the same with this posture. As we stand on the earth in this focused way, an amazing well of energy can rise up through our spine.

The vertical alignment breath can help this process. Visualise breathing in from the core of the earth, letting the breath flow up your legs and up through the spine to your heart. Then as you breathe out, imagine the breath flowing upwards from your heart, out of the crown of your head and up into the heavens. On the next breath, repeat the process, drawing energy down from above to you heart as you breathe in, letting it flow down from your heart and out of the soles of your feet back down into the earth as you breathe out. Repeat this process for as long as it feels comfortable, as you become a connection between heaven and earth. Finish by drawing energy to your heart from above, then offering it out horizontally to bless the world.

Winter is a time for stillness and reflection, for preparing and making plans for the year to come. Complement your yoga practice with introspection, looking at the direction you want your life to go in, considering how you can best strengthen and help yourself, those around you and the wider world.

For more Dru Yoga poses to keep you calm, visit the Dru Yoga Online Studio or visit the Dru Yoga Centre in Snowdonia for a stress- relieving yoga retreat!

 

 

Dru Meditations for Autumn

jane claphamBy Jane Clapham, Dru Meditation tutor

Yes, Autumn has arrived again. As Brits, we often approach autumn with mixed feelings – it’s a bit like marmite – you either loved it or you hate it. On one hand, it’s the romantic season of ‘mists and mellow fruitfulness’.  On the other hand, it signals the end of the summer and the onset of the colder winter months – and so can be depressing for many of us.

Dru meditation is one of the most effective ways of keeping you feeling cheerful, no matter what the season (or the weather!)  When we move from summer into autumn, the energy changes from being very yang (male, hot, strong, fiery) to become more yin (female, soft, wet, colder).  As the energy changes outside us, we can use meditation to help us adjust internally, so that we can appreciate the gifts that autumn brings, rather than mourn the passing of summer.

Autumn is a time to slow down and literally gather the harvest of the year so far.  This might mean pausing to reflect on the lessons we’ve learned this year.  It might mean taking time out for a retreat in new surroundings and nurturing ourselves with relaxation and therapies. It’s a great time to start a new yoga or meditation class, following the new school term. It can mark a time of change for the positive – and meditation can help us create the right attitude about the changing seasons. If we approach autumn in the right way, it can bring us a sense of fulfilment which we can carry forward into the winter.

Autumn Meditations
During this season, getting enough rest is important, and doing a daily savasana after your yoga, and before your meditation practice will help you easily make the transition from summer to winter.

Lie in the supine position (on your back) and cover yourself with a blanket to ensure that you are warm, as the body temperature does drop during relaxation. Arms should be placed slightly away from the body, palms uppermost. Feet should be shoulder-width apart to ensure a good flow of energy to the legs. Before closing your eyes, raise your head to look towards your toes and check that the body is aligned symmetrically. Lower your head and release any tension around your neck by gently rotating it from side to side before finally allowing it to rest in a central position. Close your eyes. Focus on your breathing, allowing yourself to breathe in accordance with your body’s needs. Give yourself the sanction to be still, to be silent and to relax.

Aim to lie still for at least ten minutes. Try not to move, as it is the stillness which will help your body to relax. After the ten minutes, gently become aware of your body and the ground underneath you, then stretch and open your eyes when you’re ready.

Heart Meditation

Many meditations in the Dru tradition activate the seat of compassion and inner joy, the heart chakra.  With an open heart, embracing the changing seasons becomes easier, and a cause for celebration rather than regret.  On the Dru Meditation training course, I encourage students to always start and finish their meditation practice by bringing their awareness to the heart.  This is very centering and grounding and in my experience helps them to integrate their meditation practice better into their day-to-day life.  Try this 3 minute Dru heart meditation and fully embrace the coming of autumn!

Sitting either on the floor or on an upright chair, extend your back up so that you’re nice and tall.  On the in-breath lengthen your spine, on the out-breath relax slightly.

Bring your awareness to your heart centre at the front of your chest.  As you breathe in, feel the energy in your heart chakra expanding, and as you exhale feel it spreading throughout your body.  Continue to breathe gently, on each exhalation imagining that the energy of your heart is growing, filling every cell of your body.  Imagine yourself being saturated with the energy of compassion, hope and joy, and allow this feeling to settle for a few moments before you bring your awareness to your body once again.

Stretch and open your eyes, ready for another beautiful autumn day.

For details of Dru meditation retreats and training courses, visit druworldwide.com